Saturday, June 16, 2018
Education

USF Polytechnic reorganization saves $1 million

USF Polytechnic's interim chancellor wasn't kidding when he said he would work to save money at the Lakeland campus — a campus mired in controversy since its prior leader led a push to make it a separate institution.

David Touchton has identified savings of about $1 million after eliminating several international programs and administrative positions, USF announced Wednesday.

The 1,300-student branch campus in Lakeland will suspend its initiatives in France, Asia and Latin America, Touchton said in a news release.

And the positions being cut are: director of extended university/global partnerships Asia; director of global partnerships France/Soft Landing program/co-director Florida France Linkage Institute; the senior grant specialist who focused on international recruitment in Central and Latin America; the director of strategy and innovation; and senior adviser to the regional chancellor.

"The USF Board of Trustees has identified fiscal responsibility as an important task with which I am charged," Touchton said. "In the last several weeks, I have spent much of my time meeting with key staff to analyze our institutional priorities and look for ways to increase efficiency."

In the months leading up to a vote to delay USF Poly's independence, there was much scrutiny over the spending habits of former USF Poly chancellor Marshall Goodman, who pledged half a million dollars for a video about the new campus' construction.

He spent $10,000 on life-sized science fiction statues, including Darth Vader and a stormtrooper from Star Wars.

Goodman also traveled extensively around the world for conferences and meetings, including many trips to Las Vegas.

So frequent were his travels that the campus set up a website called "Where in the World is Marshall Goodman?" that boasted about sojourns in France and India.

His spending came under fire by two state senators, who never got the full campus audit they repeatedly requested from him.

USF president Judy Genshaft removed Goodman from his post late last year.

Touchton, a Lakeland accountant who cautioned against rushing to split USF Poly off independently, has agreed to serve in the post until USF finds a permanent replacement.

A couple of weeks ago Genshaft announced the formation of a search committee and consulting firm to start the process.

In the meantime, Touchton told USF trustees that he would work to make the campus more efficient while moving toward independence benchmarks laid out by the Florida Board of Governors.

Touchton said this month that he found someone to make that documentary Goodman had planned for just $25,000.

As for the Star Wars statues, no decisions have been made, a spokesman said.

Kim Wilmath can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3337.

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